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Thursday, 10 March 2016

#BlogFeature - The Keke Man


Hello everyone, here is Vivian Beulah Igbokwe again, a consistently passionate writer about the state of affairs in Abia State. on my blog. Her articles and views are her own experiences and opinions and they are very interesting and enlightening. 

If you would like your written articles featured in my #BlogFeaturePost columns, kindly send them in to

Enjoy. :)


Chioma boarded a bus at ITC Owerri going to Aba. She closed very late at work, and as such the rest of her activities from the time she closed at work, to when she got home to pack her stuff, to when she got to the motor park was a mumbo jumbo. She must travel this weekend because it’s been a while she saw her family and their complaints was becoming too much. Immediately the bus moved, she called Amara, her younger sister, to alert the family that she was on her way home. Amara told her to make sure she got to Brass junction before 9:pm otherwise it might be difficult for her to get home. Chioma thought Amara was bluffing. 

Their bus pulled up at Brass junction by fifteen minutes past nine. Chioma watched as the last bus drove off from the junction. The next option was the rickety taxis. She tried to pick one of them as drop but their prices were too high. She just hauled her luggages into the boot of the taxi and paid for one space. She called Amara and asked her to come with all her younger siblings to the street junction to help carry her carry many luggages, mostly filled with things she'd bought for the family. 

Amidst all this, she couldn’t take her eyes off one lady. She travelled down from Lagos and also had several luggages. She arrived late because there was traffic all the way from Benin to Onitsha (Chioma knew all this because she heard the lady lamenting). The lady tried to pick one of the taxis as drop-off but they all refused to carry her. They said her area is unsafe, unless they drop her at her street junction and she had to make up her mind quickly because very soon, they will close for the day. How was she going to handle her very many luggages alone? Chioma watched her as she tried to call her family but their lines were not going through. She considered sleeping at a hotel but what was she going to do to her luggages? Drag them all to the hotel room when people and offices were becoming increasingly paranoid about loads and bomb attacks? As their taxi drove off, Chioma couldn’t take her mind off the lady.

Keke, a major means of transportation in most parts of Nigeria.
This is a typical experience people go through in recent time. Before the elections last year, Keke owners were banned from operating after 8pm daily. Thus it became merry Christmas for police officers who would stand at every junction to take money from every defaulting Keke owners. If the Keke person tries to resist, they will threaten him with taking him to the police station. Trust me, no defaulter prefers that option. Prior to this time, Keke plied at any time of the day and life was easier for us. Then one of the governorship aspirants met with them. He promised them that if he won, they would operate at any time of the day. After this meeting, because of his close ties with the then governor, their time was increased to 9pm and the policemen also moved up their time. All these while, people kept adjusting and readjusting to these changes in time. You see, that’s the thing with man, he keeps evolving to cope with environmental changes. This aspirant won.

Now, several months later, the time for Keke owners to stop operating is 7pm. The reason given is Security as there has been a lot of kidnappings aided by Keke riders. For Christ's sakes, who advices our governor? Who computes these statistics? Which is easier to kidnap with, a Keke or taxi? If the authorities are alerted, how many minutes can Keke run before a police car catches up with it? Is it comparable to how far a taxi or a car can speed off? Whila a car or taxi can be locked with in-built central lock, how will Keke do that magic? When the car glass is wound up and music is turned up so that no matter how much the kidnapped person shouts, he can't be heard: how can Keke do that? 

When these advisers give their counsel, can't our leaders consider the facts before taking actions? Maybe if our policy makers have ever used Keke as a means of transportation, they will understand what our lives are like without them. These Keke operators ply every nook and cranny of Aba; taxis don't. Keke is airy and spacious enough for the three passengers it carries at the back; taxis pack us four at the back and two in the front. Trust me, it's a nightmare. They increase the price for any distance because they are the only ones on the road at night. They never come out in the day because no one will bother to enter. For any special drop with Keke, the price varies between N250-N400 depending on the distance but with the taxis, you hear amounts like N800-N1500 and you wonder if you are travelling out of the city or just going home which is a little distance from where you are. The worst of all is the state of the taxis. It's like they went to their grandfathers' graves to dig them up. They are so old and rickety. If those kidnappers our leaders are trying to protect us from chase these taxis on foot, they won't run too far before catching up. I entered a taxi one day and when I looked down, I could see the tarred road through the floor of the taxi!!!

If according to government statistics, the number of kidnap incidents are more with Keke, then let security measures be put in place. The government can furnish the people with Police hotlines on which people can call for emergencies. And once security is alerted, they should swing into immediate action because the Keke wouldn't have gone so far that their cars cannot catch up with. If taxis must be on the road, then the government should ensure that only the ones in good condition will be on the road. They should make laws that only one passenger sits at the front and three at the back. Or better still they should allow our dear Keke to run at any time of day and night. No city should be shut down as early as 9pm, how much more 7pm; this is what happens when Keke is not on the roads, people are already used to Keke as a major means of transportation within town in the evenings and late in the evenings. Our leaders should learn to make policies with the people in mind. 

Isn’t that what democracy is about? “Government of the people for the people.”  #LetKekeRunAtAnyTime.

Article by Vivian
Twitter: @club7teen

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